Barge Hubs

Barge Hubs

Research: 2016-2019




Barge hubs can contribute to reducing congestion in inland navigation.



Every day many inland vessels call at Rotterdam to load or unload containers at the seaport terminals. In these terminals, congestion occurs. For example, when loading and unloading cannot take place due to strong winds at the terminal. Due to these and other causes, the delay in loading or unloading containers at the seaport terminal can sometimes be extreme (i.e. multiple days).

Research has been carried out to determine to what extent congestion can be reduced by using barge hubs:  Transhipment sites, located close to the seaport terminal or farther away, from where the cargo from inland shipping vessels can be transloaded to trains or trucks. The cargo then completes the journey by rail or road and arrives at the terminal at the agreed time.

In the research, to generate an accurate picture of the occurring congestion, the current situation was assessed. Subsequently, the effects of using a hub in the port, close to the port, and further away were examined. Cost calculations have been made for each alternative. A simulation model was used in which potential locations and real cargo flows were included.
The simulation model showed the impact of the different hubs, but can also provide valuable input when considering the congestion problem in a broader perspective.


  • Reliability of inland shipping services is improved.
  • Less delay, cargo arrives at the terminal on time, the reliability improves.
  • The share of inland shipping in the modalities mix will grow.
    Better reliability makes transport over water more attractive. It will therefore be chosen more often.

Business opportunities

  • Congestion in inland navigation is decreasing partly due to research with the simulation model.
  • Limiting cost increases in inland shipping.
  • In the event of congestion, the carrier has a solution available: using a hub.
  • Better service, more reliable and attractive product.


TU Delft, TNO, Ab Ovo, Rotterdam Port Authority, Linc

This project is part of the Smart Logistics roadmap. For more information about this project or this roadmap, please contact project developer Anique Kuijpers.